One of the things you might not know about me is I love comic strips. This started out as a love for reading, and newspapers were something I read as a child, but some newspapers had better comic strips than others. My hometown newspaper, the Early County news, didn’t have comics but it rarely had news for that matter. The Albany Herald, which was my maternal grandmother’s favorite paper, had decent enough comics, but the Americus Times had even better comics than anyone else in the area. The Atlanta Journal Constitution had a decent selection but the newspaper with the real punch when it came to comics was the Jacksonville Times Union. That newspaper rocked when it came to comics.
I read Doonesbury for the first time in the AJC. I read Calvin and Hobbes for the first time in the Jacksonville Times Union. My first favorites were Nancy and Peanuts and Mark Trail. In the early 90’s I went over to the dark side and started reading comics online. That’s when I discovered that in order to really enjoy my comics every day, there were those who had to be sacrificed in the name of time.
I dropped Luanne when she became a beauty queen instead of a slightly chubby misfit. I dropped Peanuts when it became reruns and Charles Shultz was dead. I dropped Family Circus when it was just the same thing over and over. Lynn Johnson finally stopped For Better or Worse and after Farley died, I had to leave it rather than go through that again. I quit Bloom County twice. I finally stopped reading The Phantom when it went into reruns, and this was one I loved from the 60’s.
Today, I had to drop Cul de Sac by Richard Thompson. This is about the second time around in reruns, but it’s not like Thompson up and quit like Bill Watterson did. Thompson was diagnosed with Parkinson’s back in 2012. He stopped because he had to, and attempts to keep the strip alive failed.
Richard Thompson was a man of very rare genius in an art form that has defied death for decades now.
I can remember reading comic strips when I first began reading, back in 1964. The Sunday comics was a big deal, a very big deal, because of color, which is cheap and easy now, but at one time was a once a week thing. I read all the comics strips on Sundays, even those that didn’t interest me much because reading was something I did. Over fifty years later, I still read comic strips but the medium has changed, and evolved, or at least changed.
Richard Thompson will be missed. Just like the others that came and went before him, just like the readers that come and go, the comic strips and their fans rise and fall, as do mediums and fashions, colors and punch lines, and sight gags. The world of Comic Strips will endure, or they won’t, but the human beings that have made them what they are on both sides of the pages are not eternal.